BALTIMORE — An outstanding performance by the Indianapolis defense enabled Peyton Manning to take his time before finding a way to get the offense in working order.
The Colts barely missed their first shutout since 1997, Manning threw two second-half touchdown passes, and Indianapolis cruised past the Baltimore Ravens, 24-7, Sunday night.
Manning could generate only three points in the first half, but it didn't matter because Baltimore wouldn't end up scoring until the final minute of the game.
"Our defense had to play well until we figured out the looks they were going to give us," Colt Coach Tony Dungy said. "We just had to hang in there."
Indianapolis scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 17-0 lead, and the Colts coasted behind a defense that received few headlines last year while Manning threw an NFL-record 49 touchdown passes for an offense that scored a league-leading 522 points.
"So often, our offense gets a lot of credit," defensive tackle Corey Simon said.
"They've done great things, but it's time for the defense to get a name for ourselves and play hard and be just as good as our offense."
The Ravens lost starting quarterback Kyle Boller, who hyperextended his right big toe while being sacked by Larry Triplett in the third quarter with the score 17-0.
"I've never had any foot problems before. It's concerning because it's my plant foot," Boller said.
Raven Coach Brian Billick said the injury "is more severe than it sounds, but I'll have to defer to the doctors to see how bad it is."
Boller's replacement, Anthony Wright, completed 19 of 31 passes for 214 yards with two interceptions in his first game since 2003. His 17-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Wilcox with 13 seconds left ruined the Colts' bid for their first shutout since a 41-0 rout of Miami on Dec. 14, 1997.
Manning was 21 for 36 for 254 yards and no interceptions, and Marvin Harrison had six catches for 69 yards.
"We stuck to our plan and it worked," Manning said.
"We just had to keep plugging and plugging, and we got into a little groove in the second half."
The defense, on the other hand, was exceptional from the outset. Cato June returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 2:39 left, and the Colts limited Jamal Lewis to 48 yards rushing.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, many of the 70,501 in attendance -- the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Baltimore -- headed for the exits.